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Transport company fined $300,000 over leg fracture incident

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 16 February, 2022 - 12:45
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
South Australia

A national transport and logistics company has been convicted and fined $300,000 for breaching federal work health and safety laws in an incident that caused severe injuries to a worker.

The incident happened on 25 November 2018 at a freight depot in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

After delivering a load of steel coil, workers were manually raising the heavy interlocked gates on a truck trailer when the gates fell on a K. & S. worker, causing severe leg fractures.

Following a Comcare investigation, K. & S. Freighters Pty. Ltd. pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing in its duties under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and K. & S. Freighters pleaded guilty to breaching section 19 of the WHS Act by failing in its primary duty of care to provide a safe system of work.

The charge is a Category 2 offence under the Act, carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

In sentencing in the District Court of South Australia, Judge Ian Press said there were considerable and foreseeable risks to the drivers and workers in failing to ensure the use of exclusion zones and mechanical lifting of the gates. Judge Press also took into account the impact on the victim.

Comcare’s general manager of regulatory operations Justin Napier said the risks involved in the case were obvious.

“The consequences of failing to have a safe system of work in place for this job were potentially fatal,” Napier said.

“The incident was preventable and there were simple remedies available to minimise the risks – using mechanical means to move the gates and establishing an exclusion zone during the operation.”

K. & S. Freighters is a self-insured licensee in the Comcare scheme and is regulated under the Commonwealth WHS Act.